Team Origin set the pace in Audi MedCup

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The Independent Online

It was a three, two, one and go to the top of the table day for Ben Ainslie, Team Origin and Britain as a trio of short inshore races were completed in sunshine and sea breezes at the Audi MedCup regatta in Mediterranean Spain.

As the Kiwis struggled in the lighter air and their rivals lacked consistency the Origin crew, skippered by Ben Ainslie, took up where they had left off on the opening two-race day, setting the pace for all their rivals.

It could have been two firsts and a second and the day lost on Thursday to very light and fickle wind did nothing to disturb the momentum. Equally assured were the tactical calls of Ainslie's Olympic medallists Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson. A distant memory were the frustrating boat handling errors that had cost them so dearly as the team settled down.

The first race of the day had been a close tussle between Origin, Matador and Sweden's Artemis, with Origin in the lead for much of the time. It was the Argentinian Matador, with Francesco Bruni calling tactics, which had it at the finish and Artemis, skippered by Paul Cayard pipped the British into third place by just one second.

The second saw Ainslie guide the boat confidently from mid-fleet to second behind the King of Spain's Bribon in a breeze that had settled at only seven or eight knots, conditions that seemed to suit a Juan Kouyoumdjian-designed boat that the Origin crew is sailing faster than its first outing in Cascais, Portugal, in May.

The third was a win by a thumping 54 seconds over Italy's second-placed Luna Rossa, It was a golden day. The schedule for Saturday calls for another short inshore race followed by a longer coastal race.

The leading boats in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland were behind schedule but picking up speed to set a new record for the 1,800-mile course, being sailed anti-clockwise. The French Volvo race Open 70 Groupama was 20 miles ahead of Spanish rival Telefonica sailing south down the west side of Ireland.

With less than two days to cover the final 550 miles, strong overnight breeze was forecast, making a Sunday finish likely and both the course and records vulnerable.

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